TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2011 (According to JimmyO)
It is a strange concept to put together a top ten list. How can you put HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2 up against THE ARTIST? Each film achieved greatness on its own merit. Yet it is that time of year again, where we all balance out how every motion picture we experienced ranks amongst the others. Every feature on my list affected me in a unique and powerful way, making 2011 an especially difficult year to narrow it down to only ten.
One of the themes I appreciated most this year was the homage given to cinema itself. Both THE ARTIST and HUGO presented a loving tribute to a bygone era of silent pictures. This is especially important in a digital age where shooting on film is near to becoming a lost art. Both of these films serve as reminders of how magical film was when it began, and of course, how it still can be. Even SUPER 8 and MY WEEK WITH MARILYN touched on the nostalgia of movies with equally compelling results. From Spielberg inspired science fiction to Marilyn Monroe, all the way back to the birth of “talkies” this may have been my favorite recurring theme in movies for quite some time.
Aside from SUPER 8 and MY WEEK WITH MARILYN, there are a number of terrific films that are also worth mentioning. The twenty year spanning career of a rock band, alien invasion, or the devastation of a love affair gone wrong, each of these tales would have felt right at home on my personal top 10. THE DEVIL’S DOUBLE, ATTACK THE BLOCK, CAPTAIN AMERICA, BELLFLOWER, THE SKIN I LIVE IN, PEARL JAM TWENTY, THE MUPPETS and Fincher’s THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO all left a strong impression and happily returned me to movie theatres throughout 2011. Let’s all hope that 2012 brings a new year of enthralling big screen adventures, large and small.
#5 - APOLLO 18: Sadly, in space no one can hear you yawn. Ultimately all this space mission had to offer was cheap jump scares, shots of astronauts sitting around and one of the most laughable endings ever. You’ll be able to find more thrills in a Syfy Channel original feature, which will at least have intentional humor. Abort this mission if you know what is good for you.
#4 - BEASTLY: BEASTLY is a mess of a movie about an a-hole (Alex Pettyfer) made ugly by an Olsen twin (Mary-Kate). This morality tale is vapid and poorly acted by both the uncharismatic leads. While Hudgens wasn’t terrible, she had very little chemistry with Pettyfer. If the performances don’t get you, the lousy script may. This is a tale as old as time, and each time it has been told better than it was in BEASTLY.
#3 - I JUST DON'T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT: And I don’t care at all! It is hard to feel any sympathy in this unfunny and incredibly out of touch Sarah Jessica Parker comedy.
#2 - ZOOKEEPER: ZOOKEEPER is part talking animal, part being true to oneself morality tale and part romantic comedy all in one inept feature film. This might have been better just to hear Sly Stallone and Cher (as the voice of a lion and lioness) argue for an hour and a half… they were one of the few highlights in this dreadful comedy.
#1 - ABDUCTION: This pathetic excuse for a film featured a not-ready-for-action hero status Taylor Lautner and an impossibly ludicrous script by Shawn Christensen. What happened to director John Singleton? This forgettable action thriller couldn’t even excite Twi-Hards.
Tom Cruise scaling the walls of the tallest building in the world makes for one of the most impressive action sequences in recent years. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL might have been watchable if that were the only highlight, but there is so much more excitement to be had. The latest chapter in this franchise is a refreshing change of pace from your typical Hollywood action flick. Thanks to Pixar director Brad Bird (THE INCREDIBLES) there is a real sense of humor and non-stop excitement. GHOST PROTOCOL is the rare sequel that is superior to the original.
Who would have thought a movie about mixed martial arts would be as emotionally charged as WARRIOR? Thanks should be given to both Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton who play brothers living very different lives. Both of these talented actors are at their best. Then there is Nick Nolte. It is no surprise that Nolte is garnering the critical acclaim he has recently for this. Once again, audiences are realizing how fantastic an actor he is. This is more than just a sports flick - WARRIOR is a powerful and emotional look at the importance of family and forgiveness.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives such a remarkable performance in this “cancer comedy” that is hard to imagine him not getting an Academy Award nomination. 50/50 is inspired by the true story of the film’s screenwriter Will Reiser, who fought and won his own battle with cancer. With a strong supporting cast including Seth Rogen, Angelica Huston, Bryce Dallas Howard, and the lovely and talented Anna Kendrick, there is a ton of talent on-screen surrounding Gordon-Levitt. And with director Jonathan Levine at the helm, it will be hard for anybody to witness such a brave and honest story without shedding several tears.
Much like DRIVE, director Joe Wright’s HANNA feels every bit a fairy tale. In fact, there are several images in the film that certainly attest to that. The story of a sixteen-year-old girl named Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) who has been raised to be a deadly killer is one of the most fascinating films of the year. Ronan is stunning as Hanna. The music, the imagery and the performances all add up to a wild and wonderful thriller that comes full circle by the end credits.
There is nothing sexy or erotic about the NC-17 rated SHAME. The story of a sex addict and his manic sister is a somber and heartbreaking one. Michael Fassbender gives another powerful performance as a successful thirty-something who surrounds himself with porn, prostitutes and self pleasure, so much so he begins to have trouble hiding it from others. It is the near incestuous relation with his sister Cissy (the exceptional Carey Mulligan) that he seems to truly fear. Director Steve McQueen’s drama is a staggering look at the repercussions of sex without love or true contentment.
Early on I had very little interest in Muggles and anything else HARRY POTTER related. While the films were most assuredly well done, they just didn’t connect with me. However, HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1 and especially PART 2 changed all that. This is a magnificent end to this franchise. Director David Yates gives life to this final chapter as Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) finally faces off against Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). DEATHLY HALLOWS is a brilliant conclusion to this successful franchise, one which deserves a little Oscar consideration after all these years.
Terrence Malick’s visual masterpiece is a rich and moving experience. This work of cinematic poetry begins at the (literal) very beginning of life itself and leads to one man’s memory of his childhood in the 1950’s. Strange and maybe a little pretentious, yet TREE OF LIFE can be a very moving experience for those willing to take the journey.
Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy shine in BRIDESMAIDS. This wonderfully funny film about friendship has as much heart as it does humor. Written by Wiig and Annie Mumolo and directed by Paul Feig, there is a level of honesty in each and every performance. It is this year’s wonderful comedic surprise.
Ryan Gosling has proven to be one of the most fascinating young actors as of late, and DRIVE is further proof of that. As the unnamed “driver,” Gosling gives one hell of a performance as a Hollywood stunt man by day turned getaway driver by night. Nicolas Winding Refn’s dark and twisted fairy tale is a visual stunner. Smothered in a rich and powerful score by Cliff Martinez with dreamy pop music on the side, Refn has crafted an unusual, but bloody well brilliant tale of crime and revenge. Albert Brooks deserves special credit playing tremendously against type as one deadly criminal you’ll never want to cross.
THE ARTIST is a dream come true for fans of cinema. This loving tribute to silent film is a masterpiece of sight and sound. The performances by the films leads, Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo, are absolutely phenomenal. Director Michel Hazanavicius captures the spirit and beauty of early Hollywood without dialogue or Technicolor or any other modern day movie magic. In beautiful black and white, a true classic is born.
Martin Scorsese’s passion for film has always been evident. In his latest, he brilliantly paints a canvass that is as much alive as the characters on screen. His lovingly crafted HUGO is as much a love letter to cinema as THE ARTIST. Based on the novel “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick, HUGO offers up a superb cast with a beautiful score by Howard Shore. This is one of the rare occasions where the 3D truly elevates the cinematic experience.